(c) Moscow-Pullman Daily News


Lenna Harding

Author and Columnist


Random Thoughts

Writing the column every two weeks isn't hard; thinking of something to write about can be.  More than once I've sat down on Saturday morning to write with a Monday deadline with no idea what topic to choose.  So far, I've been able to produce a column by noon.  Then I edit on Sunday and send it in so it's waiting on the editor's computer Monday morning.  Those may not have been my best ones but they were acceptable. Fortunately that doesn't happen too often.  When I'm really lucky, I have them almost written in my head and all I have to do is key them in then edit.  To be on the safe side, my editor has standby timeless columns in case I get sick or something. Otherwise, I try to be timely.  

With the political antics during the past year, I have had plenty of fodder to choose from.  I don't envision the situation turning any less crazy. I try to be timely, but I vary it too.  At one point, I turned in what I call a lighthearted romp down memory lane deliberately using words and expressions that are fading from use. I wove a succession of them into the narrative as I told childhood riddles, and about Maypole dancing--not to be confused with current pole dancing. 

One column dealt with the not so veiled threats against our local Mosque.  It has been part of our community for some years now and is one of my neighbors, about a block away and within sight of my home.  I couldn't ask for a nicer neighbor; those people are far better than average as most of my other neighbors are college students who can get pretty wild and noisy at times.  I was heartened when I read in the paper that members of several churches in town offered to stand guard during their services and escort their women to the grocery store if they are fearful.  When 9/11 occurred, I asked myself if I have the guts to go and stand in their doorway and tell any protesters to go home and leave these people alone?  After these events, I asked the same thing again. I hope it will never be necessary, but I'd like to think I would.

On another subject, one day last winter I was sitting here at my laptop in the dining room where I can look out the window and watch the world go by.  It was garbage pickup day and across the street, a magpie pecked open a bag and pulled out what looked like slices of bread. He was soon run off by a crow.  A squirrel joined him and was undaunted by his presence.  The squirrel simply grabbed a hunk and ran off to eat it, returning several times for more.  The crow soon had another crow with him that was tolerated.  When they had their fill, two magpies returned and polished off what was left.  The squirrel then perched precariously on a topmost tiny branch of the flowering crab across the street picking and eating crab apples.  Good theater.  Pullman didn't have squirrels when I was growing up here.  About thirty years ago our mayor got the brilliant idea of importing two squirrels of the same sex to live at the cemetery to keep down the sprouting maple seeds.  Someone goofed.  Pullman now has many more than two and they aren't confined to the cemetery.

On another snowy winter day,while writing at my dining room table, I saw a flash mob of quails feeding in the yard across the street. At first I saw about seven.  As they moved around as a group from that yard to the one next door and back, others would appear a few at a time seemingly out of nowhere, and before they left, I counted at least fifteen at one time. About an hour later, two grade-school age girls who live up the street stopped in front of the waist-high retaining wall along the sidewalk and began leaning over it, making face prints in the fresh snow.  I remember making angel prints, but face prints never occurred to me.  I haven't seen the little girls for some time and wonder if they still live up the street. I haven't seen any quails this winter either. I feel deprived.

I don't heed those who say one should choose a place where one can write undistracted.  I disagree.  I need to feel part of the world, and I have a good part of it going by my door every day. I also need to get up and walk around about every half hour or I get stiff. If I don't, I find I reach more than one kind of dead end.  While I'm up, I try to accomplish at least one household chore such as unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, dusting a room, and the like.  That way, over the course of a couple of months, I have a clean house, one bit at a time.  Getting up and moving around or looking into the distance rests these old eyes, too.  I'm sure I accomplish just as much as I would if I isolated myself and stayed glued to my seat, and I really have ever so much more fun doing it.  Now, if only I could get Cricket to cooperate and not get into mischief like shredding tissues or crunching ball point pens while I'm totally caught up in what I'm doing. She is currently lying behind me with her head under a dining room chair.









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